NNSA, University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Police Raise the Bar for Radiological Security

Press Release
Mar 27, 2009

*To download video of NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino's remarks, click here (20 MB). 

PHILADELPHIA – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) recognized the University of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia for their national security leadership during a nuclear security forum today.  On Thursday, NNSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation hosted a table-top exercise with federal, state and local officials at the University of Pennsylvania to exercise security alarm response and crisis/consequence management skills in response to a terrorist event.   

"The University of Pennsylvania and its affiliated institutions are world leaders in education, research and medicine and we are pleased to be recognizing them today as a world leader in national security," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino.  "NNSA's cooperation with the university and city of Philadelphia is an example for hundreds of other sites and communities across the U.S. and the world that users of radiological materials can successfully balance the need for security without adversely impacting the benefits of their use."

Yesterday's table-top exercise and similar events are held routinely at both NNSA and Department of Energy sites and are an important tool in evaluating security and emergency response.  NNSA has expanded the exercises to include civilian sites like the University of Pennsylvania to engage city and state officials that would comprise the first responders in a national security event.

NNSA also recognized the University of Pennsylvania for completing all of the voluntary radiological security upgrades offered by NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative and NNSA's federal partners.  In partnership with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Homeland Security, NNSA continues to install voluntary security upgrades at civilian sites in the United States to reduce the potential for theft or misuse of radiological materials that could be used in a dirty bomb.  These voluntary upgrades are in addition to security enhancements required by the NRC and state governments since 2006.    
 
"Penn is proud to be a national leader in medical care and ground-breaking research," said Craig Carnaroli, Penn executive vice president.  "By partnering with the NNSA, we are securing our research labs in new ways while supporting our award-winning campus safety programs."

"Since taking office more than two years ago, I have focused on the grave threat posed by nuclear terrorism.  But we must also remain on guard against so-called dirty bombs -- attacks employing radiological materials to spread fear and panic, even if they may not kill many people," said Senator Casey.  "That's why I am so proud that the University of Pennsylvania, in cooperation with the city of Philadelphia, is the first in our country to complete voluntary security upgrades to ensure that radiological material is safe and secure.  The people of Philadelphia are safer today, thanks to their foresight and will to action."

NNSA's Y-12 National Security Complex provided radiological security alarm response training to University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Police.  Pacific Northwest National Laboratory worked with the University of Philadelphia to implement the security enhancements, and Sandia National Laboratories installed retro-fit plates on the irradiators which greatly increase the time to remove the cesium sources.

NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) has been striving over the past several years to reduce the risk of terrorist use of nuclear and other radioactive materials around the world. GTRI has been partnering with over 100 countries spanning the globe, to strengthen security at nuclear and radiological facilities; convert highly enriched uranium fueled research reactors to low enriched uranium fuel; and recover excess and/or vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials. With our far-reaching international effort, the GTRI strives to set a positive example in the United States to build cooperation and consensus internationally on these important security issues.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation's national security enterprise.  NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371